Workplace Wise - Iowa Employment Law Attorneys

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Equal Pay Day: Tips for Avoiding Pay Discrimination

By Megan Erickson Moritz

In honor of Equal Pay Day, here are five tips employers should follow to avoid pay discrimination in the workplace.

  1. Establish and enforce anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation policies, and consider including specific prohibitions against pay discrimination and against retaliation against employees who raise potential wage complaints.  No employment decisions, including decisions about wages, should be based on sex, gender, or other legally protected classes. Ensure employees have an internal reporting mechanism with multiple points of contact (so an employee is not required to follow a specific chain of command to voice concerns).
  2. Audit pay practices.  Review wages, bonuses, and other forms of compensation, as well as processes and practices used to determine starting wages, wage increases, advancement opportunities. Consider establishing objective guidelines to help decision makers navigate these decisions with consistency and fairness.  Look for disparities in pay among various groups.
  3. Maintain documentation about pay and other employment decisions.  Ensure documentation shows decisions are made on legitimate, non-discriminatory bases.  Employers should also establish document retention policies and practices to ensure preservation of all wage records consistent with all wage and hour laws.
  4. Don’t prohibit employees from discussing their wages or other terms and conditions of employment. The National Labor Relations Act protects non-supervisory employees’ right to discuss wages and other working conditions. (Some states also protect these discussions.)
  5. Train decision-makers.  Supervisors and other decision-makers should be trained on EEO procedures, how to identify and avoid unlawful discrimination in pay (and other) decisions, proper evaluation and advancement procedures, and so forth. 

The EEOC is increasing enforcement efforts with respect to potential wage discrimination, and is revising its EEO-1 Form to include collection of pay data from employers (presumably to help the agency identify and address wage discrimination). Employers who would like help evaluating their policies and practices, or interested in a customized HR Audit, may contact Megan or any of our Employment & Labor Law Practice Group Members for more information.

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